Kenya Troops ‘Pull Out Of Somali El-Ade And Badhadhe Bases’


Kenya troops



Kenyan forces have pulled out from two military bases in Somalia, including one attacked by militant Islamist group al-Shabab, residents have told the BBC.

Al-Shabab fighters have seized the southern town of Badhadhe after the troops retreated, a local MP said.

Soldiers also left el-Ade, where al-Shabab said it had killed about 100 Kenyan soldiers 11 days ago.

A Kenyan army spokesman said troops were involved in a “normal operational manoeuvre” and not a withdrawal.

Kenya, which contributes about 4,000 troops to the 22,000-strong African Union force battling the militants in Somalia, has not said how many of its soldiers died in the attack on el-Ade, which is in the south-western region of Gedo.

If al-Shabab figures are correct, it would make it the deadliest attack on Kenyan forces since they crossed into Somalia in 2011.

DNA tests

Residents in el-Ade told the BBC they welcomed the pull-out, as they had been subjected to constant harassment and air strikes from Kenyan forces since the assault on the base.

Several civilians had been killed during the Kenyan operation, they added.

In a BBC interview, army spokesman Col David Obonyo denied this, saying only an al-Shabab camp had been targeted.


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Kenya has said that the bombs used by insurgents at the el-Ade base were three times more powerful than that used by al-Qaeda in the 1998 US embassy attack in the capital, Nairobi, which left 224 people dead.

Col Obonyo said some of the soldiers killed in el-Ade had been identified, but DNA tests were still being conducted to identify the rest.

The BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza reports from the Kenyan town of Eldoret that families there have been asked to provide DNA samples to help identify what are believed to be badly mutilated bodies.

The families are anxious, and it has been a long and agonising wait for them, he says.

Col Obonyo said Kenyan forces were not “withdrawing from any of our positions in Somalia”.

“Nobody says we must be in that camp. We can operate from another site,” he said, in response to residents saying that troops had vacated their base in el-Ade.

Col Obonyo refused to divulge how many troops were killed or wounded in the assault.

Last week, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta told a memorial service for the fallen soldiers that Kenyan troops would stay in Somalia despite the attack.

-bbc


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